Hong Kong

Sean first visited Hong Kong in 1989 within days of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing that served as a reminder of the colony’s imperiled status and then lived there for three years in the early-1990s when all the talk was about the imminent return to Chinese rule.  But throughout, the city prospered: living there at that time felt like a heady boom period that couldn’t possibly last but that is now regarded by people in Hong Kong as almost a low ebb compared to the even headier China-driven frothiness that followed.  Still, recent visits suggest there are few places on earth that build so much yet change so little.  New land is reclaimed from the sea, new skyscrapers go up, new restaurants and bars creep up the hillside, yet these are all variations on what was there already more than two decades ago.  Only the outlook of its residents has changed and Hong Kong, never a place to privilege art (or almost anything else) over commerce, has finally developed neighborhoods like Sheung Wan that can genuinely be said to be pretty cool.

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